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Study: More want treatment instead of jail for non-violent drug users; Drug treatments courts on rise in Wisconsin Submitted: 04/04/2014

Adam Fox
10 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
afox@wjfw.com


CRANDON - A new Pew Research study conducted in February shows that a large majority of Americans support treatment for non-violent drug users instead of mandatory jail sentences.

67 percent of people surveyed believe the government and courts should focus on treatment for drug users.

Judges and prosecutors face a tough judgement and balance of figuring out the appropriate punishment for non-violent drug users in court.

Forest County Prosecutor Chuck Simono says he sees a remarkably high number of repeat offenders in the county even after spending time in jail.

"Just from what I've seen in Forest County over the last six years, I would put the recidivism rate in excess of 70 to 80 percent," Simono said.

Many Wisconsin communities are turning to drug treatment courts. It's a program with courts for non-violent drug users that combines treatment, sanctions, drug tests and care for when they've stopped using drugs.

Simono says the social movement has shifted to more of a focus on treatment to get people rehabilitated and back in the community. He seems more hopeful for people successfully going through a drug treatment program.

"They're going to return to the community, they're going to get a job, they're going to be productive," Simono said. "They're going to help contribute to a positive way of life rather than what we see when we just jail people."

Leaders in Forest County, including the Forest County Potawatomi, hope to form a treatment court to help users and cut costs.

"The cost to just continually jail individuals is just enormous," Simono said. "Unfortunately for some individuals that's going to be the only answer, others will find treatment successful."

Prosecutors, judges and social workers want to rehabilitate everyone, but sometimes even treatment isn't the answer. Simono says some people decline treatment for jail instead. Others repeatedly go through treatment without fully grasping the rehab.

"We have others that insist on treatment that have been five times already," Simono said. "They're still not adapting and utilizing the coping skills that they've been acquiring over all of their trips to treatment."

Leaders in Forest County hope to win a federal grant that would pay for the setup of the court.

The treatment court could be running as soon as this year if they win the grant, but the county and Forest County Potawatomi don't have the funding to start the court without federal help.

Wisconsin has around 50 drug treatment courts throughout the state.



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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 09/28/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The rain we've had recently caused some problems with the potato harvest. We talked to potato growers in the Antigo area about how they think the season went.

Earlier this week the Northland Pines School Board approved drug testing. We'll tell you what it means for the students.

And we'll update you on the progress of the Rhinelander Ice Arena expansion.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point police want your help finding suspects in two possible stabbings.  The stabbings happened early Friday morning and early Sunday morning near downtown Stevens Point.

Friday, four young men got into a fight on Main Street. One man said he was stabbed in the chest.  Police say the suspect is a black man in his mid-20s, about 5' 9" tall, with a muscular build and short hair.  The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Sunday morning, police responded to an incident at 2nd Street and Crosby Avenue. Witnesses heard glass breaking and people yelling about a stabbing.  Police don't have a victim or suspect description in that case, but they don't believe the two stabbings are connected.

If you have any information about the stabbings, call Detective Sgt. Gruber at 715-346-1518.

You can also call Portage County Crimestoppers to remain anonymous at 888-346-6600.

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MADISON - Damage caused by flooding in Wisconsin already is getting close to $10 million dollars.

Wisconsin emergency management workers provided the estimate on damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure.

In an update Tuesday night, the State Emergency Operations Center put the damage to homes and businesses at over $1.6 million dollars.

Damage to public infrastructure, including roads, bridges and trails, has reached over $8 million dollars.

The numbers should go higher, as some counties are still not reporting.

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TOWN OF LITTLE RICE - Dennis Schoeneck's pickup truck sloshes through muddy logging roads these days.  But he'd prefer it if a much larger truck could even make it down the path.

"Heck, I think you could spit and make mud here," the Enterprise Forest Products owner said Tuesday morning.

Foot-deep ruts make up most of the logging road leading back to 23 acres of private land the long-time logger harvests in the western Oneida County town of Little Rice.  Schoeneck started logging professionally in 1979 and says 2016 has been "exceptionally wet" compared to any other year.

"The old adage, make hay while the sun shines, that's not just for farmers," Schoeneck said.  "That's for us too."

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EAGLE RIVER - The streets in Eagle River got an extra wash on Tuesday and not just from the rain.

The Light and Water Utility spent most of the day flushing fire hydrants.

The city flushes the hydrants twice a year, once in the spring and fall.

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RHINELANDER - People in Rhinelander will be able to cast their November election ballots starting on Friday.
It's the earliest people in Wisconsin have ever been able to vote.

The absentee ballots are stacked and ready for Friday at the Rhinelander City Clerk's office.
To make the early voting process go as smoothly as possible, you will need to come prepared.

"When you come in make sure that you're registered. That is important. Make sure you're registered in the city if you're coming into us," said Clerk Valerie Foley.

Registering is easy; all you need is a photo ID and proof of residence.
The registration form takes a couple of minutes, and then you will be able to fill out an election ballot.

"I think it is going to be a very busy day. I think people are pretty interested in the issues. And I think a lot of them would like to get and make sure they can vote if they're not certain they're going to make it to the polls in November or not," said Foley.

The clerk's office has already sent out about 200 ballots to people who have requested them.

Now, it is preparing for the early voter in-person rush.

If you are unsure whether you are registered to vote or where to go for early voting, the clerk's office suggests voters visit myvote.wi.gov for more information.



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BOULDER JUNCTION -
The Boulder Junction Town Board voted two to one Tuesday night to move forward with a town plaza plan. The plan will now go to a design phase. 

The board estimated the cost of the design phase to be between $30,000 to $50,000, but it was dropped to about $25,000 at the meeting.

Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and Town Supervisor Dennis Duke voted in favor, with Town Supervisor Denny McGann voting against the plan. 



A little more than $1 million may not seem like a lot of money to a city like Madison or Milwaukee. But for a town of fewer than one thousand people, it's a lot. The Boulder Junction Town Board could vote Tuesday whether or not to move onto the next phase of a $1.26 million town plaza project. 

Dennis Duke has a vision of what Boulder Junction could look like in a few years. 

"This one has a much more artistic flair, this has a more engineering flair if you will," said Duke while looking at potential design plans. 

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